White Lobelia

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A small white jewel graces the wetland year round; complex yet graceful.

The White Lobelia, Lobelia paludosa, is a common wetland wild flower that flowers year around. This species can be found in wet pine flatwoods and along the edges of marshes in just about every county in Florida.  A single erect stem grows from a basal rosette composed of spatulate, spoonlike, leaves, 2 to 3 inches in length. Growing on the lower portion of the stem are widely spaced leaves with shapes that vary from linear to elliptic. Plant height can be as high as 30 inches.

Flower buds appear alternately on the upper portion of the stem. Buds are attached to the stem by a short stalk called a pedicel.  When open, a snowy white corolla or bloom appears supported by a calyx with five ragged red and green sepals. The corolla has two lips and five lobes.  An upper lip has two small lobes and a lower lip with three larger lobes. In the middle is a dorsal lobe with two narrower lateral lobes on either side.  Laying on top of the corolla is an elongated column made up of five fused male stamens surrounding a female style that are waiting for nectar seeking pollinators to land on the lower lip. Overall, the flower is about ¾ to 1inch in length.

There are 12 species of the genus Lobelia making a home in Florida. All are native. The specimen in picture was found at wet prairie alongside of Daniels Parkway.

 

Dorothy Rodwell